Ira Chinoy /
EXAMPLES OF DATA ON THE WEB:
Searchable vs. downloadable databases
The assignment that requires you to locate examples of Web sites useful to reporters calls for an example of a database that can be searched on the Web and an example of a database that can be downloaded from the Web. Some sites offer one or the other, and some offer both. Here are some examples.
An example of a site that offers both searchable and downloadable databases is the Federal Election Commission:
Ψ There is a searchable database of individual campaign contributors here: http://www.fec.gov/finance/disclosure/norindsea.shtml . So, for example, if you plugged in Abramoff (Last name) and Jack (First name), you would find contributions from the lobbyist whose activities have been at the center of a widening set of political scandals.
Ψ There are a variety of downloadable databases here:
o There are files with large quantities of raw data on the donors and recipients of contributions for entire election cycles at http://www.fec.gov/finance/disclosure/ftpdet.shtml . These are text files which have to be downloaded and then imported into a program such as Microsoft Access for you to use them.
FEC also provides means to download subsets of records such as the
contributions to particular candidates as Excel files. For example,
candidates for Congress from
o The FEC offers a tutorial on this process at: http://www.fec.gov/finance/disclosure/working_with_data_files.pdf
Here are a few other examples to give you an idea of how to fulfill this part of the assignment:
Ψ Searchable databases:
o Medicare: Compare nursing homes: http://www.medicare.gov/NHCompare/Include/DataSection/Questions/SearchCriteria.asp?version=default&browser=IE%7C6%7CWinXP&language=English&defaultstatus=0&pagelist=Home&CookiesEnabledStatus=True
o Federal Bureau of Prisons Inmate Locator: http://www.bop.gov/iloc2/LocateInmate.jsp
Ψ Downloadable databases:
o Microsoft Access files:
§ National Transportation Safety Board - Aviation Accident Database: http://www.ntsb.gov/NTSB/query.asp
§ Medicare data on nursing homes and other facilities: http://www.medicare.gov/Download/DownloadDB.asp
o Microsoft Excel files:
o DBF (Dbase) files: (These are in a format easily imported into MS ACCESS, or Excel if they are under 65,536 rows):
§ Federal Rail Administration Office of Safety Analysis: http://safetydata.fra.dot.gov/officeofsafety/Downloads/Default.asp
o Mixed formats: Text files (that can be imported to Access if you have documentation) or Excel files:
§ Internal Revenue Service Tax Stats Nonprofits, by state: http://www.irs.gov/taxstats/charitablestats/article/0,,id=97186,00.html
There is a class page with some other examples of data on the Web (primarily of the downloadable variety): http://jclass.umd.edu/cars/772/Data_sources_on_the_web.htm The bottom of that page also includes links to tip sheets and tutorials on importing data into Access and Excel from other sorts of data files, including text files, statistical software files and PDF files.